Cuts to coal mining fire up sugar industry

MOVE over coal, it's sugar's time to shine.

A new report from the Australia Institute indicates the downturn in Queensland's coal sector will provide relief for industries that were hit hard during the mining boom.

In The Mouse That Roars: Coal in the Queensland Economy, economist Rod Campbell reports that the mining boom forced up the Australian dollar and created skills shortages in the agriculture and tourism industries.

Mackay has been a sugar town since settlement but during the boom growers struggled to source staff.

"In the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region, where savage cost cutting by the coal industry has hurt local suppliers, we are learning the dangers of relying too much on such a cyclical industry, and the importance of looking after industries like tourism and agriculture that employ people for the long haul," Mr Campbell said.

"There is no doubt that the coal industry's cost cutting is hurting regional economies but in the end a healthy diverse economy will provide more secure jobs than coal ever will."

Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg said growers had noticed an increase in skilled labour with the slowing of the coal sector.

"In the peak of the coal boom we were really struggling to find competent labour," he said.

"When growers have ample qualified staff to work their farms they can focus on creating better farming practices, which leads to a better industry overall."

While Mr Borg welcomed the relief in the labour pool he warned of the need for a "balanced economy" when the mining sector picked up.

"Some growers saw there was better money over the hill, so that land went out of production," he said.

"Cane farming all works in a cycle and when you break the cycle it's very hard to start back up again."

Is Mackay's economy too reliant on the mining industry?

This poll ended on 20 October 2014.

Current Results

Yes

89%

No

10%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



Former Ipswich MP honoured for his work after politics

premium_icon Former Ipswich MP honoured for his work after politics

David Hamill has kept busy after he left politics

'We need to be convinced on waste-to-energy plant': Council

premium_icon 'We need to be convinced on waste-to-energy plant': Council

Greg Chemello lists the councils requirements for the project

REVEALED: Roads on priority upgrade list as city grows

premium_icon REVEALED: Roads on priority upgrade list as city grows

Upgrades planned for new roads and existing network

Local Partners